Unusual names are good....

Elsewhere in IMHO, there is a complaint about “An outbreak of silly names.”

I would agree that certain naming practices, such as giving one’s child a name without any consideration for its understood or etymological meaning, are silly.

But I do think distinctive names are good. Good Grief? How many guys named Michael, Darin/Darren, Jon/John, etc., do I know? Sometimes a more obscure name is called-for. But what I consider classy and distinctive, some people may just call “freaky-weird.” Hence the experiment in this thread.

I have a list (ever open to change) of rather unusual names I would consider bestowing on any hypothetical children I might have, should I give up on my monk-like single existence. These are not college-guy joke names, like young Mr. Brackett wishing for a son named Winnerz. I’m serious, or as serious as one with no immediate plans to settle down & “raise chilluns” can be. And I am genuinely curious to see what the Teeming Millions make of these names. So, I will put forth my list and you can pick each name apart.

Also, anyone who likes rather unusual names can chime in and get insulted, criticized, and analyzed along with me.

Please note: This is not the Pit. Play nice.

*foolsguinea's list of names for hypothetical babies (with clumsy English-phonics pronunciations):*


**Thalia**--"thall' ya"
**Euphrosyne**--That's pronounced "yew-frozz'-i-nee" in English.
**Boadicea**--I would like to pronounce this as if Italian, with a "tch" sound for the "c", but don't expect that to last if she grows up in an English-speaking country.

**Stirling** or **Sterling**--not sure I like either spelling that much.
**Pelagian**--Yes, like the heresy. Also like Pelagianus, who was *not* a heretic. And it comes from *pelagos*, meaning "deep sea."
**Gawain**--"Gah'-wehn", which will turn into "Gowan", I know, more's the pity.
**Heron**--pronounced like the bird & probably as a middle name; I may be psycho, but I'm not utterly cruel.

I also like “Reuben” and “Drake” for boys, and “Corinna” for a girl. If you think those are strange, you may just need to get out more.

Honest opinions? Ok…
Thalia - hate it. Doesn’t have a nice sound, doesn’t look nice written down.
Euphrosyne - hate it. Again, doesn’t sound or look nice.
Boadicea - hate it. Too old fashioned. More of a character in a romance novel than a real person.
Aglaia - hate it. Don’t like the Ag sound (also dislike Agatha, and other names from this group).
Echo - hate it (Can imagine being teased at school “Hey, Echo Echo Echo, Get over here here here!”)
Alexa - hate it. However, I don’t mind Alexandria (on someone else’s child). Alexa just doesn’t appeal.
Clarice - hate it. Sounds too much like Larry. Sounds are too hard.

Arn - hate it. Too short. Sounds like something is missing.
Tempest - Negative connotations. I would expect Tempest to be restless and messy and disorganised. Could be a problem if potential employers have the same reaction to the name.
Stirling or Sterling - hate it. Doesn’t seem like a name, more of a description.
Swift - hate it. Would think this child had dippy parents (please don’t be offended by that. This isn’t a personal attack). Would pre-judge the child because of the name. Plus, I can’t imagine “President Swift Jones”. However, I can imagine “Fill her up, Swift. We’ve got a long trip ahead of us”.
Pelagian - hate it. Sounds too much like pelican.
Gawain - like it. I really like this one. It’s a nice name. Unusual, but close enough to Gavin, Wayne, etc to sound right to me. It has a nice sound to it, and it doesn’t look too bad written down. May I pinch this one to put on my list? :slight_smile:
Heron - hate it. What is it with seabirds here? Pelican, heron… Heron is similar to heroin, very negative. Plus, I just don’t like it :slight_smile:
Corin - like it. Very nice name. Uncommon, but not freaked-out-weird. Completely approve of this one as well.

I also like “Reuben” and “Drake” for boys, and “Corinna” for a girl. If you think those are strange, you may just need to get out more.

Well, I personally can’t stand the name Reuben, and wouldn’t consider Drake because who wants to name their child after a duck? I don’t mind Corinna.

I’m sorry if my opinions seem a bit harsh, but you asked for honesty :slight_smile: This is my honest opinion, this is what I would be thinking if someone walked in and said “This is my son, Tempest” or “Come back to Mummy, Boadicea”. And at the end of the day, my opinion does not make me right, any more than yours makes you wrong.

Thanks. That’s exactly the kind of honest response I’m looking for. And these are the odder names I’ve considered, so don’t feel bad for me. I may end up with Edward, Gilbert, Elizabeth (“Libby” for short), and Constance.

Of course, you’re free to hate those, too. :cool:

Oh, and “Boadicea” would get shortened somehow.
As would “Euphrosyne.”

Thalia- it’s Ta-li-a in Spanish, it sounds nice but the slightly slutty singer by the same name makes me not like it much
Euphrosyne- hell for the child from kindergarten on, I can’t imagine a single teacher ever pronouncing that right, besides, it sounds so… made up I guess.
Boadicea- Same as above
Aglaia See above
Echo As mentioned before there are a million and one ways to make fun of her for the name, grade school would not be fun.
Alexa it sounds nice but I prefer Alexia or Alexandra, they sound classier
Clarice Pretty

Arn too short, sounds cut off
Tempest Sounds more like an affectionate name for a girl
Stirling or Sterling- I like Sterling but not Stirling
Swift Nice but seems more “trendy”
Pelagian- Sounds like it would even take the kid a while to learn to say it.
Gawain–Not bad
Heron-I would seriously be against it as a first name for the possibility of playground teasing but doesn’t seem too bad as a middle name, as long as it flows with everything else.
Corin It sounds nice but I’m not too much for it because there’s a certain girl I know named Carynn (kuh-rin) and it sounds so similar

Just MHO


Your name - What it makes me think of:

Thalia - Thiols. Molecules with -SH groups on them. OK, probably not a really common reaction. Besides that, some sort of flower, perhaps?
Euphrosnye - Bless you. Here, have a Kleenex.
Boadicea - Bodice. Ripping bodices. Romance novels. Gotta get me some!! Or else bodacious.
Aglaia - the death rattle of someone who’s been shot through the lungs.
Echo - echo echo echo echo…
Alexa - Alex. Sounds like it’s a contrived “short for something” type of name.
Clarice - vague memory of a cartoon barnyard animal of some sort. Cow, perhaps?

Arn - Arm. Or short for Arnold.
Tempest - one of the Cosby kids was named this. A girl, which ruins it as a boy’s name for me. Not that I liked it anyway.
Stirling - easy. Silver.
Swift - the author. Or the sparrow.
Pelagian - Pelican. Here’s hoping he doesn’t end up with a double chin…
Gawain - King Arthur. And the character of the same name in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. OK, it’s not a terrible name. Unless you live in the twenty-first century.
Heron - No. Might as well name him Desk or Lampshade. No names that are also nouns.
Corin - sounds like something you do to an apple.

But then, I’m kind of old-fashioned in many ways…

Don’t name the girl Clarice and the boy Stirling, if you have a brother and sister pair. Isn’t that similar to the name from Silence of the Lambs?

Our son’s name was the 726th most popular for the year before his birth. That was good–not so weird that people say “WHAT!!!” but we don’t know any other little kids with the name.

Corin isn’t all that uncommon, I don’t think. I’d find that a plus, but if you’re looking for “OUT THERE” unique, I’d strike it. Same with Clarice, Echo and Alexa, as well as Gawain.

I like Thalia best of the girl’s names. Seems traditional and classy, but not stodgy.

Ooh, I really like Thalia and Clarice. Some of the others I’m not so sure about – it’s a pain to go through life with a name nobody can spell or pronounce.

As for boys’ names, I’m afraid that short and classic is the only way to go. Cuts down on the iodine-and-stitches bills later.

Here are some of the names I’m considering for hypothetical baby girl porpentines:


… and I have to admit I rather like Linus for a boy, although I know it is a Very Bad Idea.

I don’t have a ton to add, I love Thalia too, and I like how Arn looks on paper, but for it to seem like a whole name you would drawl out the “r” sound I think, or he would be Arny. Not terrible, but not great either. But anyway, distinctive names are good, but the kid will hate it if it is hard to spell or remember. My RL name is Liberty and I love it, everybody remembers it and everybody can say it and spell it.

You spelled “Corinna” wrong. It should be “Carina.”

Got that? Good. :smiley:

My siblings are Rowena, Aaron, & Rory. I have a nephew Ittai (in Israel), and two nieces, Luna & Paloma (in Spain.)
My dogs are Phoebe & Cooper. My cats are Darryl, Daphne, & Taz. I used to date an Arn, he was Norwegian. My brother’s SO is Tone; she is also Norwegian. My SO’s name is Meketa (Russian) but he’s shortened it to Mick. We are an international family, what can I say.

If I had kids they would be John or Mary or something. Just to be different.

Why is poor Boadicea, (or Boudicca even) being seen as a fictional or romance name? She was a perfectly real “Warrior Queen of the Iceni tribe” and led a revolt against the Romans in 60-61 A.D. (Not that I’d name the kid after her, just a point.)

“Stirling”, being a town, makes about as much sense to me as a personal name to me as “Chicago” would (not much), so that seems odd too. Of course, it’s fine as a family name, but I’m not aware of it having anything to do with silver.

I’m glad someone pointed out the Arthurian angle re. “Gawain” and I have come across the name in Wales.

“Thalia” was the Greek muse of comedy. Nice idea, don’t like the name, but at least it’s worth knowing what names mean before giving it to someone. And since she was the sister of Euphrosyne and Aglaia, I suppose they’d be a matching set, which might be what the OP had in mind.

I’m not going to nitpick about the others, except to make a humble request, Foolsguinea, that you do not name any son of yours Swift because it’s just asking for the poor lad to be the slowest runner in the school races and so on.

Avoid Echo, if only because those of us who’ve read Greek mythology will look at her funny. Echo was a simp who killed herself because a cute boy (Narcissus) wouldn’t look at her. This is not a message you want to send to your daughter. (Not that she’ll know it for years, but…)


PLEASE don’t make your kid’s name too unusual.

My name is made up…I was supposed to be a boy, emerged with no stem, and instead of going with “Elizabeth” like my mom wanted to, my dad feminized the male name HE’D chosen.

I have gone through my whole life hearing every mispronunciation of my name humanly possible. It’s worse in school, too, because kids just don’t care.

Adults can’t pronounce it…and damned near every time I tell someone how to pronounce it (think DMV), I get, “Oh, what a pretty name!” If you say so. I didn’t pick it.

As an adult I sort of like not being one among many Melissas, Jennifers, Heathers or Andreas…but as a kid I loathed and despised it. No, it’s not middle-eastern. No, it’s not a literary character. My parents made it up. “They made it UP?” Yeah, all words of one syllable: MADE IT UP.

Sorry. I’m 30 and I’m still not over this.

This is strictly my opinion, but since you asked for honesty, my first reaction to hearing names like the ones you suggested, foolsguinea, is that someone is trying too hard to sound like an intellectual.

The names you listed are great ones if you need character names for a book you’re writing (some sort of gothic mystery set in the stormy countryside), but think of the practical issues the kid is going to have to face throughout life: spelling & saying the name over and over, funny nicknames by people who can’t get the pronunciations, and eyes being rolled over what many people view as being forced creativity by the parents. Although it’s probably not right that people react this way, it happens. My name isn’t even that unusual (Claudia), but I can’t tell you how many people look at me like I have 6 eyes when I say my name.

It’s possible to give a child a name other than Michael or Jennifer without referencing some obscure warrior from 6th century Norway. IMHO, coming up with random names that most people have never heard of is soooo trendy and it makes me roll my eyes. Recently on NPR, on the show “Radio Reader”, they read a book called Waiting. The main character in the book named her son Blaze. The first thought in my head was “redneck male stripper.”

Again, this is strictly my opinion and I’m a bit of a conformist, so YMMV.

I pretty much agree with what people have said about the names. Personally I like unusual names as well but not too unusual. I would love to have a daughter to name Chrysalis, Amara Chandra, Mara, Keaira, Antares, Kenzie or Kaelin. (Yes I realize Kenzie and Kaelin are Celtic boys names they just sound more girlish to me. I have a younger cousin, a girl, named Kenzie.)

My names (first and middle) are not that common. I can count on my fingers how many times I’ve encountered Ruth’s and Claire’s. There are more Claire’s in my family (I was named after my Grandma’s but one of my aunts is Mary Claire) then I’ve met irl and with Ruth’s I’ve met only 2 others. (One of the Ruth’s changed her name to Lucidia Aristotle)

I would change my name but I have no idea what to change it to so I’m stuck basically.

Rueben is a type of sandwich so I don’t like that one. Drake I like but then I love Dragon’s so anything referencing them I usually love. As for Corinna I think its a nice name. One of my Aunt’s is named Corinne actually.

I agree about the much-too-common names. Can we stop naming boys “John” for a generation or so? Please? I’m sick of being a member of a horde. I never even had the luxury of a nickname until I started going by “Balance” amongst Dopers; I can’t tell you what a relief that was. I would have preferred a name that didn’t get me “What an unimaginative alias” looks when I check into a hotel (my middle name is no better, BTW)

Now, for those specific names (if I don’t mention one specifically, assume that I disliked it for reasons already mentioned):

Thalia–I don’t like the name itself, but it calls to mind “Talia”, which I do like.
Boadicea–The name is both beautiful and meaningful, but she’s going to be called “Bo” for life. Accept it. This conjures images of bimbos or male hicks; is that what you want for your daughter?

I like Gawain, Corin (he’s going to be called “Corey”, but so what?), and Drake (I like dragons, too).

Of course, I’d kind of like to see children choosing their own permanent names. I envision a system in which children are born with a family name, parents give the child one name (which will later become a first or middle name, based on the child’s decision), and the child chooses a first name when s/he is old enough. I suspect most people would stick with their given names, but it would be nice to provide an option for kids with names they hate.

Unusual names can be good. My brothers have traditionally Icelandic names and mine isn’t all that common unless there’s a large russian population or [for soem odd reason] a large minority section that’s been around for ages. Names of me and my brothers: Natasha, Jón [pronounce the J like a Y], and Thor. Not really common, but still good names. I especially am neutral about my middle name: Aili, the Finnish version of Eileen. I’d rather have it than its anglicized version, but then again, my grandmother’s first name would’ve been more appealing to me [it was Violet].

*foolsguinea's list of names for hypothetical babies (with clumsy English-phonics pronunciations):*

In general, I agree that these names are "trying too hard." Specifics follow. Parents MUST anticipate what the child will hear on the schoolyard, and basically NONE of these names pass that. And I'm hyperbolic in my replies, so please take them with a :p.


**Thalia**--"thall' ya".

The hard "th" sound is generally not attractive - it's a big part of the reason "Bertha" sounds so godawful to modern ears.

**Euphrosyne**--That's pronounced "yew-frozz'-i-nee" in English.

Pretentious. "You floss in here?" "You froze in me?" Ugh, ugh ugh. Child abuse, my dear, child abuse.

**Boadicea**--I would like to pronounce this as if Italian, with a "tch" sound for the "c", but don't expect that to last if she grows up in an English-speaking country.

"Broad, is she?" Like eu-whateverthehellitis above, takes too damn much explanation to pronounce. Here's a rule: *do not use any names that require phonetic renderings*.




And how many times do you think kids will knock on her head and listen for the echo?


Finally, a nice, normal name. Bravo. Unfortunately, I tend to think of Alexis Carrington, but by the time your daughter's in school most will have forgotten that.


Reese's Pieces. Clarice's Piece. No, no, a thousand times no. Also, bears too much resemblance to Clarence, which Gary Larson identified as an Unfair Animal Name in the same class as "platypus" and "sapsucker." Isn't this also the Jody Foster/whatshername character in Hannibal?


Arn is a verb, meaning to press, as in clothes. Example (from "Hairspray," Divine as Edna Turnblad): "Would you please *turn that racket down*? I'm TRAHIN to ARN in here."

**Tempest**  Um, don't you remember Tempesst Bledsoe, the middle SISTER on Cosby? Hmmm? Besides, we do not name our children after weather patterns :p, lest they grow up to become weathermen - like NYC's Storm Phillips. (I'm not joking, that's his name. His father's a weatherman, too.)

**Stirling** or **Sterling**--not sure I like either spelling that much.

Sterling is a currency. Would you name your daughter Lira? And don't get me started on Franc.


Sure to grow up to be a fat greaseball. We do not name our children after adjectives, as it tempts the gods.

**Pelagian**--Yes, like the heresy. Also like Pelagianus, who was *not* a heretic. And it comes from *pelagos*, meaning "deep sea."

Actually, it resembles Pellagra, which is a terrible disease of malnutrition (specifically, niacin deficiency). Here is a link that shows what pellagra looks like: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dm15pa.html.

**Gawain**--"Gah'-wehn", which will turn into "Gowan", I know, more's the pity.

Wait wait wait. You know what it'll turn into, and you don't like it. That means you abandon it PRONTO.

**Heron**--pronounced like the bird & probably as a middle name; I may be psycho, but I'm not utterly cruel.

Iffy. Makes me think of "hair on," but it is a really neat bird so I understand the attracting.


Too gender-neutral, which is fine for girls and DEATH for boys.

I also like “Reuben”

It’s a sandwich. A SANDWICH! What the hell else are you thinking of - “And how was school today, BLT?” :stuck_out_tongue:

and “Drake”

Doncha have Drakes Cakes where you’re from? They’re like Hostess or Little Debbie.

for boys, and “Corinna” for a girl.

Unfortunate. Toyota used to have a Carina, and they could revive it at any time.

If you think those are strange, you may just need to get out more.


OK, I hadn’t made the Heron=heroin connection before. Good point.
I really wasn’t serious about Echo; it’s an alternate, way down on the list, & I think the problems with it are obvious.
I am already wary of tempting fate by naming a child “Swift”.
Boadicea and Euphrosyne are going to be “Bo” (I like “Bo”) and “Rozzie” when they’re little. They’ll manage.

As for the schoolyard stuff: Hey, kids are cruel. For a boy, the only way to avoid getting razzed in the schoolyard is to have a really common name. If at any point no one else in your class or the two classes immediately above yours shares your name, you will get the treatment. This applies to many surnames as well.

I have a very traditional, reasonably common, English name: Philip. But from toddler-hood to junior high, I was the only person my age I knew with that name. REALLY.

I’ve been called,
“filly” (yuck),
“Philco” (argh),
“Philsy”, (ick),
“Philadelphia Cream Cheese” (rarely–too unwieldy),
and the worst, the one to drive me to tears, “Phyllis Dear”, which was invented by a rude boy two years older (the tallest guy in our grade-school, he could probably say whatever he wanted and take down whomever he wanted–of course I was the shortest in my grade, too).
I actually don’t mind “Flip” and “Philbert.”
But it depends on who says it. I was driven half-mad once–as an adult–by a group of people who insisted on calling me “Pip” in a mocking tone. Not to actually say anything to me, just as a running joke–of which I was the butt (why me?). I guess it’s fair. I’ve been thoughtlessly rude about people’s names myself. It’s funny–when it’s not you.

And I have a “good,” classic, name!

How do you avoid it? Well, you can name your boys “Mike”, “Tyler”, and “John”, like everyone else. But look out! Some movie or cross-dressing cannibal rock star may come along and ruin the name–unless practically everybody has it, which still didn’t save “Heather” or “Debbie” in the US.

Or you go so far out into left field that your son knows he has an odd name, expects people to go “eh?”–& people just think it’s odd enough already. If you name your kids Paris, Arn, & Jeremiah, then there’s basically one joke that everyone will think of for each, & that’s it.

Or you be like the guy in the SNL sketch who found something wrong with every suggested name for his son. He settled on “Dick.” :stuck_out_tongue:

Just don’t make the mistake that I did. I gave my middle daughter the middle name of Ryan which she, of course hates as it’s a “boys” name. I didn’t think so when her mother and I named her! But is it her mother’s fault? Of course not! I’m a guy and should have known better (according to her anyway).